The section of Echo Park south of Temple Street is packed with homes and apartments within walking distance of the Echo Park Library, indoor municipal pool, recreation center and the playing fields and walking trails of Vista Hermosa Park. Despite the many public amenities, this neighborhood can also be filled with crime, tagging and gunfire as a 37-year-old community organizer and relatively new resident has discovered. On Sunday night, police deployed several squad cars and a helicopter in response to the sound of gunfire near Douglas and Court streets followed by a report of three men in dark clothing running north to Temple Street. Police did not find any suspects, according to the Rampart Division, but the incident was the most recent to raise concern about crime in the neighborhood.
Last month, two separate assaults with a deadly weapon – on the 1200 block of Colton and on Firmin Street near Temple – took place in the immediate area, according to CrimeMapping.com. Meanwhile, tagging and gang crossouts have been on the increase, with taggers quick to spray paint walls following the departure of clean up crews. Police may have not been able to find evidence of a shooting on Sunday night, but neighbors near Colton and Douglas discovered where a bullet had dented the side of a parked car, a photo of which was emailed to The Eastsider.
Somebody suggested that the community organizer, who has lived in this section of Echo Park for more than a year, to move out. But he refuses to do so. “This is such a wonderful community,” said the man, who did not want his named to be published. “My first instinct is not to move out.”
But he is also not sure what to do about the violence. More jobs, better schools and additional anti-gang programs would help in the long run, he said. But what can be done in the short term as summer approaches and more youths are out and about?
“We want folks to be safe – that’s the biggest concern I have at this point,” he said. “We just need to be more vigilant coming home. There is not much else that can be done at this point.”